Queen Elizabeth II, World's Second-Longest Reigning Monarch, Dies At 96

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Queen Elizabeth II, the world’s second-longest reigning monarch, died Thursday astatine the property of 96.

Elizabeth, who was Britain’s oldest monarch and served arsenic queen for a grounds 70 years, is survived by her 4 children, 8 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. Her precocious hubby of 73 years, Prince Philip, died connected April 9, 2021.

Elizabeth’s eldest son, Prince Charles, succeeds her arsenic sovereign of the United Kingdom. As king, helium besides takes her titles Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England. Elizabeth’s grandson Prince William and his son, Prince George, are present archetypal and 2nd to the throne, respectively.

As Head of the Commonwealth, Elizabeth served arsenic the law monarch of 15 republics, including the U.K., Canada and Australia. She was besides a symbolic figurehead for much than 30 different nations of the Commonwealth.

Though this relation is not hereditary, Charles was approved arsenic his mother’s successor by the group’s heads of authorities successful April 2018. Elizabeth had told the radical it was her “sincere wish” for Charles to win her.

In December 2007, Elizabeth surpassed the grounds for longest-living U.K. monarch acceptable by her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria, who died successful 1901 astatine property 81. In September 2015, Elizabeth became the longest-reigning British monarch. Victoria, the erstwhile title-holder, had reigned for 63 years.

Elizabeth was the world’s second-longest reigning monarch, aft Louis XIV of France.

In February 2017, Elizabeth celebrated her Sapphire Jubilee, the archetypal British monarch to bash so. That November, she became the archetypal British monarch to observe a 70th wedding anniversary. She celebrated her Platinum Jubilee, which marks 70 years connected the throne, connected Feb. 6, 2022.

Queen Elizabeth and her precocious   husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, are seen walking astatine  Broadlands successful  Romsey, confederate  England, successful  this 2007 photograph.
Queen Elizabeth and her precocious husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, are seen walking astatine Broadlands successful Romsey, confederate England, successful this 2007 photograph.

Reuters

One of the most popular monarchs successful the U.K.’s history, the queen was a globally recognized awesome of the British monarchy and its resilience successful a changing world.

Elizabeth, however, wasn’t expected to go queen; the relation was thrust upon her unexpectedly.

She was calved Elizabeth Alexandra Mary successful London connected April 21, 1926, to the then-Prince Albert, Duke of York, and his wife, Elizabeth, Duchess of York. The princess had been 3rd successful enactment to the throne erstwhile her uncle became King Edward VIII successful 1936, upon the decease of his begetter and Elizabeth’s grandfather, King George V.

But Edward abdicated that twelvemonth ― against the proposal of the British authorities and the Church of England ― truthful helium could wed Wallis Simpson, an American who was divorced. Elizabeth’s begetter was unexpectedly crowned King George VI arsenic a consequence, and the people of her beingness and U.K. past was altered forever.

In 1952, George, who’d battled sick wellness for respective years, died astatine the property of 56 and Elizabeth, who had nary brothers, became queen astatine property 25. She had married Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark ― whom she met erstwhile she was 13 years old ― little than 5 years earlier. The mates had 2 young children astatine the time.

Elizabeth pictured with her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, astatine  her coronation astatine  Westminster Abbey, London, connected  June 2, 1953.
Elizabeth pictured with her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, astatine her coronation astatine Westminster Abbey, London, connected June 2, 1953.

PA/PA Archive

Her coronation astatine London’s Westminster Abbey connected June 2, 1953, was televised for the archetypal clip successful the ceremony’s 900-year history. The determination initially enraged immoderate elder officials, including Winston Churchill, who was past premier minister.

Churchill believed televising the lawsuit live could diminish the monarchy. But Elizabeth agreed to bash it truthful that “as galore radical arsenic imaginable could observe the ceremony.” She is quoted arsenic telling Churchill that each her subjects "should person an accidental of seeing it."

An estimated 27 cardinal radical successful Britain (about three-quarters of the colonisation astatine the time) ended up watching the lawsuit connected TV. Millions of others listened to the ceremonial connected the radio.

Elizabeth showed loyalty to the instauration of the monarchy and kept up with old rituals and traditions, but she was besides a quiescent reformer and modernizer. She made traditional events and royal grounds much accessible to the public, and hosted dinners astatine Buckingham Palace, wherever she mixed with radical of each backgrounds, including businesspeople, foundation workers, athletes and artists.

Still, the queen remained an enigmatic fig who kept her emotions and idiosyncratic feelings private. Elizabeth seldom made her opinions connected governmental oregon idiosyncratic issues publically known. And she ne'er gave a property interrogation ― though she doubly agreed to beryllium filmed for documentaries.

The archetypal movie caused a stir erstwhile it screened successful 1969, arsenic nary 1 had seen specified intimate footage of the royals before. Buckingham Palace permanently withdrew the movie from afloat nationalist viewing aboriginal that year, acrophobic that it made the household look excessively ordinary, though the movie occasionally surfaces connected YouTube.

In 2016, Elizabeth agreed to beryllium portion of a BBC movie marking her 90th birthday.

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The queen maintained the stoic composure that was the hallmark of her nationalist persona, adjacent successful her darkest hour. In 1992, a play she described arsenic her “annus horribilis,” oregon “disastrous year,” Elizabeth’s eldest sons, Princes Charles and Andrew, each separated from their wives; her daughter, Princess Anne, divorced; and a fire devastated Windsor Castle. “1992 is not a twelvemonth connected which I shall look backmost with undiluted pleasure,” she said successful a code that November.

Five years later, the death of Charles’ erstwhile woman Diana, Princess of Wales, threatened the existence of the monarchy itself. Critics accused Elizabeth of being aloof and remaining successful her Scottish castle alternatively of responding to the outpouring of grief that swept the U.K., arsenic floral tributes to Diana filled streets adjacent London’s royal palaces.

Tony Blair, past premier minister, was acrophobic the royal household was “out of touch” with nationalist opinion, and persuaded the queen to question backmost to London. She returned days aboriginal and acknowledged the sorrow of some the nationalist and her ain household successful a televised broadcast that eased tensions. “She got the equilibrium betwixt showing emotion and retaining the respect and dignity of the of the monarchy,” Blair aboriginal told the broadcaster ITV of the speech.

During her reign, Elizabeth conferred hundreds of thousands of honors and awards, and though her relation was mostly ceremonial, she was politically engaged. She’d pore implicit authoritative documents and kept abreast with existent affairs connected a regular basis, and met privately with the premier curate of the day to person an intimate, confidential chat each week. Though the contented of these meetings is mostly unknown, the queen is believed to person acted arsenic some confidant and advisor to these leaders.

Elizabeth besides played an important diplomatic role, and was reportedly the most well-traveled monarch successful history, with her diplomatic efforts taking her each implicit the world.

Among her astir memorable, and successful, meetings was her 2011 authorities travel to Ireland. It was the first sojourn to Ireland by a British monarch successful 100 years, and was seen arsenic a symbolic motion of reconciliation betwixt the 2 countries. The queen’s amusement of goodwill, and her “words and bearing” during her visit, were “almost universally praised” by some Irish politicians and the wide public, The Guardian reported astatine the time.

Though she was known for being dutiful, the queen occasionally showed glimpses of a much daring side, similar erstwhile the precocious King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia visited her Balmoral property successful Scotland successful 1998. Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, the erstwhile British ambassador to Saudi Arabia, recounted successful his memoir however Elizabeth had asked the then-crown prince if he’d similar a circuit of the property. He agreed and soon recovered himself successful the rider spot of a Land Rover.

“To his surprise, the Queen climbed into the driving seat, turned the ignition and drove off,” Cowper-Coles wrote. “Women are not — yet — allowed to thrust successful Saudi Arabia, and Abdullah was not utilized to being driven by a woman, fto unsocial a queen.”

"I deliberation  what the queen symbolizes, not conscionable  to Great Britain, but to the full  Commonwealth and evidently  the full  world, is the champion  of England," U.S. President Barack Obama said successful  2011.
"I deliberation what the queen symbolizes, not conscionable to Great Britain, but to the full Commonwealth and evidently the full world, is the champion of England," U.S. President Barack Obama said successful 2011.

POOL New / Reuters

Showing a large willingness to beforehand interfaith harmony, Elizabeth, the caput of the Anglican Church, met with 5 pontiffs, including Pope Francis, during her reign. The queen besides met with a big of satellite leaders astatine location and abroad, including U.S. President Donald Trump, South African President Nelson Mandela, Soviet person Nikita Khrushchev and Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu ― a sojourn that the queen reportedly described arsenic the “worst 3 days of her life.”

“I deliberation what the queen symbolizes, not conscionable to Great Britain, but to the full Commonwealth and evidently the full world, is the champion of England,” Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama, told the BBC successful 2011. Obama, who made authorities visits to Buckingham Palace successful 2009 and Windsor Castle successful 2016, said the monarch was a “charming” and “gracious” host.

Elizabeth wasn’t exempt from disapproval during her reign, however. She encountered waves of republicanism in the U.K., Australia and elsewhere implicit the decades.

A British anti-monarchy radical called Republic has been calling for the extremity of the royal family’s reign for years. “Essentially, the monarchy is corrupt,” Graham Smith, the group’s main executive, told The Guardian successful 2018.

On the different broadside of the world, Australians person frequently mulled whether their authorities should go a republic oregon stay portion of the monarchy. Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has repeatedly suggested holding a plebiscite seeking voters’ opinions connected this substance upon Elizabeth’s death.

Elizabeth besides came nether scrutiny for her handling of a enactment maltreatment ungraded involving her lad Prince Andrew.

Virginia Giuffre has said that she was trafficked by disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, who forced her to person enactment with Andrew successful 2001, erstwhile she was a teenager. Andrew vigorously denied the accusations and successful 2019 gave a disastrous BBC interview successful which helium failed to explicit sympathy for Epstein’s victims oregon adjacent censure the precocious convicted enactment offender’s actions. Amid wide backlash to the interview, the Duke of York announced helium was stepping backmost from nationalist duties “for the foreseeable future.”

Following the interview, which Elizabeth had reportedly allowed, the queen’s judgement was criticized erstwhile she was pictured horseback riding with Andrew, successful an evident amusement of support, days aft helium announced helium was stepping back. A fewer weeks later, Andrew attended the queen’s yearly Christmas luncheon astatine Buckingham Palace and went to Christmas Day religion services with his brother, Prince Charles.

“Many people’s judgement has been called into question implicit this, not slightest the queen for allowing the interrogation to instrumentality place,” royal commentator Peter Hunt told CNN, adding that Andrew’s behaviour had “damaged the royal family.”

Andrew’s ineligible troubles didn’t extremity there. In August 2021, Giuffre sued Andrew successful Manhattan, citing trafficking and intersexual battle allegations stemming from erstwhile she was 17. The Duke of York’s behaviour was erstwhile again tied to the queen, arsenic helium was pictured hiding retired astatine his mother’s property in bid to flight process servers. Giuffre and Andrew yet reached an out-of-court settlement successful February 2022.

The queen’s last years were besides marked by idiosyncratic nonaccomplishment and household upheaval, arsenic good arsenic the situation of helping usher the U.K. done the onset of COVID-19. In April 2020, Elizabeth was praised for her quality to reassure and unify radical aft she delivered a moving, affectional speech amid the uncertainty and dislocation of the pandemic. It was lone the 5th clip she had fixed a peculiar code to the nation.

“We should instrumentality comfortableness that portion we person much inactive to endure, amended days volition return,” she said successful those remarks. “We volition beryllium with our friends again; we volition beryllium with our families again; we volition conscionable again.”

It was a play regarded arsenic different “annus horribilis” for the queen, successful portion due to the fact that her grandson Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, declared successful January 2020 that they were stepping backmost arsenic moving elder members of the royal family to prosecute fiscal state and a determination to North America.

In March 2021, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex revealed successful a bombshell interrogation with Oprah Winfrey that a subordinate of the royal household had expressed racist concerns earlier their son, Archie, was born, among different bonzer revelations.

The queen subsequently issued a statement done Buckingham Palace saying: “The full household is saddened to larn the afloat grade of however challenging the past fewer years person been for Harry and Meghan. The issues raised, peculiarly that of race, are concerning. While immoderate recollections whitethorn vary, they are taken precise earnestly and volition beryllium addressed by the household privately.”

And soon aft Harry and Meghan’s interrogation aired, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and the queen’s beloved consort and hubby of 73 years, died connected April 9 astatine the property of 99. An representation of Elizabeth sitting unsocial astatine the funeral, which was held astatine a comparatively tiny standard in accordance with COVID-19 regulations, was seen arsenic 1 of the astir poignant moments of the day, and became a awesome of the loneliness and grief of losing a loved 1 during the coronavirus pandemic.

The queen erstwhile described the duke arsenic her “strength and stay” successful a code celebrating the couple’s golden wedding anniversary, which marked their 50 years together.

“He is idiosyncratic who doesn’t instrumentality easy to compliments but helium has, rather simply, been my spot and enactment each these years, and I, and his full family, and this and galore different countries, beryllium him a indebtedness greater than helium would ever claim, oregon we shall ever know,” Elizabeth said connected Nov. 20, 1997.

Queen Elizabeth II takes her spot   during the ceremonial   of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, successful  St George's Chapel astatine  Windsor Castle connected  April 17, 2021, successful  Windsor, England.
Queen Elizabeth II takes her spot during the ceremonial of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, successful St George's Chapel astatine Windsor Castle connected April 17, 2021, successful Windsor, England.

WPA Pool via Getty Images

For her ain part, the queen remained a wide beloved person each the mode done the last years of her life. In 2012, the twelvemonth of her Diamond Jubilee ― oregon 60th twelvemonth arsenic queen ― and erstwhile London hosted the Olympic Games, Elizabeth had an approval standing successful the U.K. of 90%, which was said to beryllium an all-time high. In February 2017, astir the clip of her Sapphire Jubilee (or 65th year), she inactive reigned with an support standing of about 80%.

In 1947, arsenic a 21-year-old princess, Elizabeth delivered a speech to the Commonwealth successful which she vowed that her “whole life, whether it beryllium agelong oregon short, shall beryllium devoted to your work and the work of our large imperial household to which we each belong.” She remained existent to this committedness until the end, refusing to abdicate adjacent arsenic different monarchs successful Europe chose to bash so.

Even successful her precocious 80s and into her 90s, the queen, who became known for her monochromatic outfits, maintained an progressive docket and was a patron of hundreds of charities and organizations, though successful aboriginal years she began to pass connected immoderate of her patronages to different royals to “ease her workload.” She continued to gully monolithic crowds wherever she went.

“When you’re successful the beingness of the queen, you’re keyed up,” British historiographer Robert Lacey said successful the 2012 BBC documentary “The Diamond Queen.” “You privation to beryllium your best. You privation the juncture to beryllium thing you tin speech to everybody astir afterwards.”

“That of people is the magic of what she is wherever she goes,” Lacey said. “The existent quality speech that happens determination is not a facsimile, and it’s not drummed up by the press. It’s thing astir the champion of us.”

Rebecca Falconer contributed reporting.

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